Our morning expedition was to the Meiji Shrine in Yoyogi Park. It was originally built in 1920, destroyed during World War II, and painstakingly rebuilt in the 1950's. The grounds (about 175 acres) are completely serene, even though the entrance sits next to a busy subway stop and rail station. We strolled up a wide gravel path, stopped at the fountain to purify our hands and mouths, and then went to visit the main temple. It amazed us that in the middle of such a busy city you can find yourself in this oasis. In the park, everyone walked a bit slower, people stopped to admire trees and small streams, and voices were hushed. The other people in the park were, for the most part, not tourists; they were folks on their way to work, walking through the grounds and stopping to offer a prayer. It was a beautiful and tranquil way to start our day - and the first time in Tokyo that we've heard birds calling.
After visiting the shrine, we entered the Harajuku neighborhood, which is famous as being the home of outrageous teenage fashion. It was filled with the familiar combination of people, traffic, and noise which characterizes so much of Tokyo - and it is literally across the street from the temple grounds. Quite a contrast.
The Trees in the Background Are Yoyogi Park
The Clothes Are a Bit Over the Top
Even the Dogs Get Stylish Clothes in Harajuku
We then spent some time strolling down Omotesando-Dori, another street famous for it's shopping, most of which is extremely upscale. My favorite odd combination of stores in a row went: Chanel, Bulgari, Shakey's Pizza, and Kiddie Land. Guess which one we bought stuff in.
Taking Wynn to Kiddie Land was a bit of an adventure. It's five-stories worth of cuteness - and so popular that we ended up waiting with a good-sized crowd to walk in when the store opened. Now, we don't take Wynn to toy stores back home because it's just too much, so here we are in Tokyo, taking her into these dens of sensory overload. To her credit, she was very well-behaved. She did not like being carried on Baba's back, however, and let us know with a whiny, "I can't see! I can't see!" Scott and I took turns holding her hand and guiding her around the store so the other one of us could actually browse a bit. She ended up with a bento box with Winnie the Pooh on it and a game where you practice using chopsticks to pick up little toy ducks.
We hopped on the Metro and headed down to Shibuya, which was craaa-zy crowded, hot, and noisy. We grabbed a quick lunch at an amazing food court in the basement of a department store but were soon faced with one of the biggest challenges we've found in Tokyo - there is no place to sit down. Most restaurants ask if you'd like to dine in or take out, and we see most people doing take-out, but we have no idea where they go to actually eat the food. The food court we visited had no seating at all, so we headed back up to the street to find a spot. The best we could manage was leaning against some rails by a statue of a dog while committing the social gaffe which is eating on the street. After gobbling our lunch, we were all pretty wiped out, so we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit.